Review: The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett

princess and the pig

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene

I have to admit, I came to this book with a lot of reservations.  It’s ANOTHER princess book in a time filled with sparkly pink books.  But if you are as sick of the regular princess books as I am, then this is just the book for you!   A farmer had a little pig in the back of his hay cart.  He decided to name it Pigmella.  At the same time, in the tower high above, a queen picked up her baby daughter and decided to name her Priscilla.  But the queen dropped the baby out of the window without noticing and up flew the piglet in her place.  Soon the piglet was being treated as a princess and the princess was happily adopted by the farmer and his wife.  After all, this sort of thing happens all the time in books!  The princess was happy at the farm, growing up and making everyone happy.  Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be seen of the piglet, who grew into a pig, could not learn to read, and refused to wear her finery.  But what is to happen when the mix-up is discovered and the young woman is told she is a princess?

Emmett has inundated his book with references to other fairy tales that the characters in the book use to rationalize what has happened.  They blame things on evil fairies and magic, which is why the mix-up is not discovered for so long.  The writing is merry and filled with humor.

That same humor is carried out to great effect in the illustrations.  They are filled with the funny things that would happen if a pig were a princess, the pomp and ceremony that would still be attempted, and the gentle, loving family of farmers raising a real princess.  The illustrations are done so that the characters pop on a softer background.  The jolly nature of the book is embraced in full here.

Exactly the antidote to children who have read too many princess books, this is a shining example of what a twisted fairy tale book can be.  Great fun and very satisfying.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

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Review: Who Has What? by Robie Harris

who has what

Who Has What? All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott

Have a child asking about their body and the ways that boys and girls are different?  Here is a picture book for younger children that answers those questions clearly, simply and with a great matter-of-fact tone.  Told through a family trip to the beach, the book starts with the child characters having questions themselves.  Emphasis is placed on the fact that boys and girls are mostly the same in their bodies.  They both love to play, love to laugh, but they do have some body parts that are different.  Even then, most of their body parts are the same.  As the children move into the changing rooms, the different body parts are shown and defined.  The book covers both the external organs and the internal ones.  As always, Harris presents the information with clarity and makes it easy to understand.

This book is appropriate for preschoolers who are asking questions about their bodies.  The answers here cover the body parts only.  No sexual explanations are given in this book about how babies are made or arrive.  It’s a great early lesson in bodies that speaks to the questions children that age have.

Westcott’s illustrations are charming and factual, nicely combining clear images of the body parts but also having an inviting cartoon feel.  The addition of the dogs in the dressing rooms and when talking about general body parts will also help answer questions that children have about pets.  It’s another way that this book is clearly designed for this specific age group.

Ideal for families looking for clear information to share with their children, this book belongs in every public library.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Digital Future for Picture Books


Photo credit to goXunuReviews.

The Shatzkin Files is one of my go-to blogs for information on e-books.  I appreciate that his point of view is not one of librarians, but instead looks with from the point of view of someone in the publishing industry. 

A recent article on his blog talks about the challenges of bringing highly illustrated and children’s books to e-books.  This is something I have also been wondering about.  I see business books, adult fiction, and even teen fiction working well on e-books, but it seems that picture books are being transformed into apps rather than e-books. 

The layout itself is a challenge because with e-books the size of the text changes to match the settings on the device.  Add illustrations that that becomes immensely more complicated to manage.

Here is one of Shatzkin’s paragraphs that speaks to children’s books, but the entire article is definitely worth reading, especially if you are a librarian trying to figure out how e-books are changing things:

I have been asking publishers about sales of their children’s and illustrated trade material. I haven’t found anybody yet that says they’re going well. On the children’s side, where there have been pockets of success, the one Big Six digital executive who expressed an opinion to me felt that price was killing sales for the ebook versions of successful franchises. Children’s apps from such distributors as Touchy Books are priced quite low, generally $2.99 and less. But many branded titles like Eloise are $9.99 and $12.99 and up! This executive points out that paying that price for a novel you will spend many hours with is much less painful than paying it for a children’s book your kid will work through in 15 minutes or less.